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Bristol hoteliers call for more big gigs as YTL Arena faces delays

The Business Magazine article image for: Bristol hoteliers call for more big gigs as YTL Arena faces delays
YTL Arena Bristol may not hold its first event until 2027
20 June 2024
YTL Arena Bristol may not hold its first event until 2027

More big gigs and major events all year round could provide a welcome boost to business for Bristol’s hospitality sector, the Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA) has said.

The non-profit organisation is calling for more to be done to speed up the development of the long-awaited YTL Arena while applauding Ashton Gate – home of Bristol City Football Club and Bristol Bears rugby team – for its efforts in putting the city on the musical map.

Earlier this month, the sports stadium hosted two Take That concerts which, between them, drew some 60,000 fans.

BHA chair Raphael Herzog said: “More than 50 per cent of all attendees to the Take That concerts were from outside the region, which meant they were staying in hotels, dining and drinking in local bars and restaurants and putting their pounds into the local economy.

“Ashton Gate CEO Mark Kelly said Bristol lacks big events and needs more all year round, and we couldn’t agree more.

“While we applaud what Ashton Gate is doing, and the positive benefits they have brought to our businesses, there’s a lot more that can be done – not least of which the completion of Bristol Arena.”

The YTL Arena Bristol, at the former Filton Airfield’s Brabazon hangar, was originally expected to open in late 2025.

But it now looks unlikely to host its first event until the latter part of 2026 or even 2027, which BHA says is a real blow for the city and the hospitality sector.

With a capacity of 19,000, it’s set to be the fourth largest venue in the country and an all-year-round destination, with conference and exhibition facilities, an outdoor cinema, ice rink and sports courts.

Raphael added: “The Take That concerts at Ashton Gate demonstrated that big-name acts will bring many thousands of people to our beautiful city.

“But while Ashton Gate is able to accommodate large events in the summer, during the winter its priority is sporting activities, whereas the Bristol Arena will be able to stage concerts and events all year round.

“For too many years, Bristol has been losing out to the likes of Manchester, Birmingham and Cardiff, but the YTL Arena will help level the playing field.

“People won’t just come for the specific gig or event, they’ll often stay overnight – if not longer – and explore the local area too, which is great for the city’s economy.

“We really hope that everything that can be done is being done to get the arena open as soon as possible.

“And Mark Kelly is absolutely right when he says the city needs more big events all year round.

“We’ve got the balloon and harbour festivals, of course, which are hugely popular.

“We’ve also just had the Bristol Comedy Garden, which has seen big names such as Harry Hill, Sara Pascoe, Josh Widdicombe and Dara O’Briain perform live.

“But it still feels as if we’re only scratching the surface of the potential Bristol has to become a major events and entertainment destination – which will not only be good for our businesses, but will provide a very welcome boost to the city’s economy.”


Born and raised in Berkshire, Dan fell into journalism after completing his bachelor’s degree in English at UCL.

Writing for The Business Magazine and local Biz News sites has given him the opportunity to chat with all manner of small business owners and share their success stories with a wider audience.

Outside of work, Dan enjoys live music, board games and quiz shows, and is making a slow but persistent effort to learn Spanish.

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